April 10, 2015 — Knife River Corporation and MDU Construction Services Group, sister construction companies with deep Oregon roots, announced today that they are giving $1 million to promote worksite safety in the state.
The grant will help fund a new state-of-the-art safety research lab at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering. The MDU Resources Group Construction Safety Laboratory will enable researchers and industry professionals to study methods and techniques to improve safety for construction workers and the general public. The results will benefit Oregonians and stretch beyond the state’s boundaries.
“This lab establishes us as the principal national facility for construction and transportation-safety research and education,” said Scott A. Ashford, Kearney Professor and Dean of Oregon State’s College of Engineering. “We are delighted to partner with Knife River and MDU Construction Services Group on this critically important project. These two companies are industry leaders in safety, and their commitment to our program will allow us to further advance processes and technologies that will help to better prevent workplace injuries.”
The lab will consist of two primary components that, when integrated, will create a virtual construction environment that replicates real-world jobsites. First, the room-sized lab will be fitted with a programmable, interactive, high-definition projection system that allows multiple users to physically conduct sample work operations — without putting workers at risk for injury. Second, a connected driving simulator will allow users to evaluate driver and worker actions as vehicles pass through a designed work zone.
“People are the cornerstone of our business,” said Brian Gray, president of Knife River’s Oregon operations. “Whether it’s our team members, our customers or the general public, we need to do everything we can to keep people safe. With this safety lab, Oregon State is taking the lead in studying and improving work zone safety.”
Knife River and MDU Construction Services Group are both coming off of record safety years.
“This project provides a virtual environment where industry and academia can work together on real-world solutions,” said Jeff Thiede, president and CEO of MDU Construction Services Group.
Bart Dickson, Oregon Electric Group president, said the lab will be able to simulate just about any type of jobsite, including highway conditions, trenches, confined spaces and other scenarios. Oregon Electric Group is an MDU Construction Services Group company.
“We’ll be able to identify safer ways to work and also study how we can improve productivity and minimize costs,” Dickson said. “It’s a win for safety, a win for the industry and a win for Oregon State students and faculty.”
The $1 million donation will be gifted to the College of Engineering over three years. The donation is funded by the MDU Resources Foundation. MDU Resources Group, Inc. is the parent company of Knife River and MDU Construction Services Group.